Online Journal of Space Communication


With the recent explosion of the Internet and the enormous business opportunities available to communication system providers, great interest has developed in improving the efficiency of data transfer using the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) of the Internet Protocol (IP) suite. The satellite system providers are interested in solving TCP efficiency problems associated with long delas and error-prone links. Similarly, the terrestrial community is interested in solving TCP problems over high-bandwidth links. Whereas the wireless community is intested in improving TCP performance over bandwidth constrained, error-prone links.

NASA realized that solutions had already been proposed for most of the problems associated with efficient data transfer over large bandwidth-delay links (which include satellite links). The solutions are detailed in various Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFCs). Unfortunately, most of these solutions had not been tested at high-speed (155+ Mbps). Therefore, the NASA's ACTS experiments program initiated a series of TCP experiments to demonstrate scalability of TCP/IP and determine how far the protocol can be optimised over a 622 Mbps satellite link. These experiments were known as the 118i and 118j experiments.

During the 118i and 118j experiments, NASA worled closely with SUN Microsystems and FORE Systems to improve the operating system, TCP stacks, and network interface cards and drivers. We were able to obtain instantaneous data througput rates of greater than 529 Mbps and average throughput rates of 470 Mbps using TCP over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) over a 622 Mbps Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) OC12 link. Following the success of these experiments and the successful government/industry collaboration, a new series of experiments, the 118x experiments, were developed.



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